It's finally 2017! I have a lot of overarching goals for my photography business. But setting goals is the easy part; you have to have a clear strategy in how you're going to achieve those goals if you want to reach them. Here are five things I'm focusing my efforts on this year:
Packaging my services differently
When it comes to making money, how you package your services can make the difference between barely scraping by or making a healthy profit. Not too long ago I decided to experiment with the packages I offer to my clients.
I used to be what many refer to as a "shoot and burn" photographer. A shoot and burn photographer offers solely digital images to their clients -- they don't offer prints.
The upside to this business model: It's very simple. You don't have to worry about soft-proofing or dealing with a print lab or any of the other complexities that come with delivering a print to your client. The downside: You're leaving a lot of money on the table. A lot.
Since I started my photography business, I had always delivered high-resolution images in all the packages I offered. But hardly any of my clients were making prints of those images. Many just wanted images to use on their websites and social media.
So I decided to offer only web-resolution images (meaning the images are optimized for web only, not for print) in my main portrait package, with the option to buy high-resolution versions at a premium price (or purchase prints a la carte).
And guess what? Since implementing my new pricing structure, more people are interested in prints than ever before!
Offering my clients different package options not only gives them the freedom to choose what works best for their needs, I'm able to earn more as well.
Working with the right clients
This one goes hand-in-hand with my last goal. As your work improves, more people will be interested in working with you. If everyone can afford you, that might be a sign that you're not pricing your services high enough. Time is your most precious commodity, and it becomes more valuable as the demand for your services increases.
Every once in a while, you have to take a step back and take an honest assessment of the value of your work and ask yourself: Am I charging enough?
At some point last year, I realized that I wasn't earning enough to keep up with what I was spending on equipment and education. I knew it was time to raise my prices. So I did. Doing so has allowed me to reinvest what I earn into buying the equipment I need, the professional education to continue to improve, and the occasional fancy dinner for me and Rachel. :)
It's worth noting: Knowing your value and charging appropriately can be tough because sometimes it means turning down people who aren't meant to be your clients. Some people have a budget that doesn't fit your rate, or they may wish to collaborate with you (meaning, work for free) when your portfolio wouldn't benefit from working with them.
In these cases, remaining polite but firm in your pricing is paramount. It's easy to get in the habit of making exceptions. Remember, not every person is going to be the right client for you, and that's okay. Set a price range and stick with it, you're worth it!
I've had multiple blogs over the last few years, including People Passionate, my biggest passion project dedicated to helping people pursue their creative endeavors. But I'm only just now starting to blog about photography.
The reason for this is simple: I didn't have an objective. It's one thing to just randomly create posts with pictures from your last photo shoot, or talk about what you did in the last week, but unless you have a clear strategy for what you want to accomplish with your writing, it just becomes another time-consuming chore you have to do. Which is why I had no plans to blog about my photography business.
But one day something happened.
Sometime last year I received an email from someone who told me how much they liked my work. They wanted to know what settings I used for my camera. Then, a week or so later, I received a message on Instagram from someone wanting to know how I find the models I work with. Slowly, over time, I started to receive more messages from people --many of them photographers-- about photography-related topics.
Suddenly it became clear: I had the opportunity to make an impact --not just with clients-- but with photographers too.
After having this realization, I decided to start blogging about the creative and business aspects of photography. Doing this, I get to reflect on the things I learn, all while providing valuable insight to other creatives interested in achieving similar goals.
Doing More "Why Not" Projects
While it's important to do paid work to keep your business alive, there is something to be said for doing collaborative projects that help get your name out there. I call these "why not" projects because while they don't necessarily provide immediate monetary benefit, they help reinforce your brand in your community and strengthen your social media presence -- so why not do them?
I started a project with a photographer friend of mine at the beginning of this year called, "I am ILM", where we feature a photo of a person from our local community every day along with a short quote from them in the caption. It's a fun project that highlights the unique personalities that make up our town. We tag each person who we feature and sometimes they'll re-post or share our post on Facebook or Instagram. This is a great way to get to know people in the community while also increasing our brand awareness.
When people are in need of photography services, they're more likely to hire someone they've heard of. Our goal is to give back to the community while earning the business of people who enjoy our work.
Growing my email list
Besides blogging, I also created an email list dedicated so I can keep in touch with people who want to learn how to start or grow their photography side-hustle. I use ConvertKit (affiliate link) as my email marketing service provider. It's a super easy way for me to send broadcast emails and automated sequences to my followers who are interested in reading my content.
After just one month, I already have 113 subscribers on my list! My plan is to eventually create and market my own online courses and ebooks that teach people how to grow their own photography businesses.
Pushing the envelope
I've been watching a series on Netflix called "Chef's Table" that documents the stories of some of the best chef's in the world. (It's a beautifully produced show, I highly recommend it.) Something I noticed all the chefs have in common is this: None of them experienced success on a grand level until they started innovating. It wasn't until they started creating new cooking techniques and coming up with dishes that had never been seen before that they reached new heights .
This principle isn't true with just cooking, it applies to anything. It's natural to keep doing the things we're comfortable with.
Over the past year or so I feel like I've really hit my stride in developing my signature style of work that people have come to recognize. To me, this is both good and bad. While I really like the fact that people can easily identify my images, I want to be versatile.
Recently I've been experimenting with new shooting and editing techniques that are quite different than my normal style. When I eventually post them, I'm sure I'll get a mixed reception from my followers. But I'm okay with that. The goal is to always be learning and trying new things. There's so much to discover out there.
If you're looking to earn more with photography this year, consider trying out these strategies. Realize: Creating art and making money don't have to be mutually exclusive. There's money to be made in this industry -- it's up to you to show the world who you are and what you're capable of, so get out there and do it! I'd love to know what strategies you guys are using to earn more this year. Leave a comment below and share!